By Conrad Clowers
Cincinnati Herald Contributor
When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you almost feel conditioned to have to write about negative things. It’s not that you want things to be negative, but you have to write about the truth. What’s true is for better than 90% of the 2018 MLB season, the Reds have been road kill. Thanks to key players getting healthy, other players gaining confidence, and a manager with experience, it is starting to show that the Cincinnati Reds have finally awakened and started playing winning baseball.
Now things can change quickly. Since these articles come out weekly the team could be back on a multi-game losing streak by the time this is read. But as of now, that’s not the case. The Reds have won a season high of seven games in a row. Over their last 38 games, they have a winning record. This past weekend they came off their biggest series win in the last several years. A four-game sweep against the Chicago Cubs have everyone in the Queen City talking and observing a tradition-rich organization that has fallen upon hard times the last half decade.
The Reds have quietly made their surge behind interim manager Jim Riggleman. Unlike Bryan Price, whom Riggleman succeeded, he has been there and done the managing thing before. Riggleman has managed not once, but several times before. He managed the Padres in 1992, Cubs in 1994, Mariners in 2008, and Nationals in 2009. When he took over for the fired Price, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. If the Reds continued on the pace they were going which was to lose over 100 games (and they still might), nobody would blame the veteran manager. It would likely just be chalked up to very little talent. But if the team could turn things around, many people would look at the experience of Riggleman and point to that as the possible basis for the turnaround, along with a possible willingness to move forward with him.
There is something to be said for one manager who can get something out of the same players that another manager could not. As a manager, Riggleman had his best two seasons in 1995 and 1998. In ’95 he led the Cubs to a 73-71 record. In ’98 he led the same Cubs team to a 90-73 mark. While the new Reds skipper has dealt with bigtime sluggers in the past, such as Sammy Sosa and Tony Gwynn, dealing with the likes of Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez should be nothing.
He has also had stud pitchers such as Kerry Woods and Mark Pryor at his disposal while in Chicago. Juggling a current rotation with pitchers nowhere near the talent level of a Woods or Pryor can be and had been an uphill battle. But by some way the new Reds’ skipper has gotten the most out of the group. Only owner Bob Castellini knows if Riggleman’s future is as the Reds’ manager. With Cincinnati playing this well, the former Reds bench coach is making quite the case.